Understanding the Fiscal Cliff Legislation

Newsletter 1-18-13

Texas Intestacy Law

If you are a Texas resident and you die without having a Last Will and Testament, the State of Texas will decide who gets your assets. The is is what happens to your assets under Texas intestacy laws.

A. If you have no spouse, your assets will be distributed as follows-
1. to your children and their descendants.
2. If you have no living children or descendants, then to your father and mother, equally.
3. If one parent is living, and one is deceased, your living parent will get 1/2 of your assets, and your deceased parent’s siblings and their descendants (your cousins) will get the other 1/2 of your assets.
4. If your deceased parent has no siblings, then your surviving parent will receive your entire estate.
5. If you have no living children or descendants, and both of your parents have predeceased you, then to your siblings and their descendants.
6. If you have no living children or descendants, your parents have both passed away and you have no siblings (or nieces / nephews), then your estate shall be distributed, one half to your father’s kindred and one half to your mother’s kindred: grandparents first, then their descendants and lineal ancestors.

B. (Separate Property) If you leave a spouse when you die, things get more complicated. Your separate property assets (non-community property, meaning items acquired before the marriage, or by inheritance or gift during the marriage) will pass as follows:
1. your spouse will take 1/3rd of your separate (not community) personal property, and the balance of your separate personal property shall go to your children and their descendants.
2. your spouse will also be entitled to a life estate interest in 1/3rd of your separate (not community) real estate, with the remaining 2/3rds passing to your children and their descendants. (A life estate interest means that your spouse will own a 1/3rd share of the property for his/her life time, but s/he does not have the right to say who gets it when s/he dies).
3. If you leave your spouse, but no children, then your spouse will take all of your separate persoanl property and 1/2 of your separate real estate. The other 1/2 of your separate real estate shall pass according tot he laws of descent listed above in Section A up to the point of your parents and siblings. If you die without parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, then your spouse will be entilted to all of your estate.

C. (Community Property) If you leave a spouse when you die, your spouse will retain his or her 1/2 community property interest in the community property assets, whether personal property or real estate. Your 1/2 community property interest in the community assets will pass as follows:
1. to your spouse if you have no surviving children or if all of your surviving children are children of you and your living spouse.
2. If you have surviving children who are not children of your spouse, then your spouse will retain his or her 1/2 community property interest, and your 1/2 interest will pass to your children and their descendants. In other words, your spouse and your children from another relationship may own property jointly and neither of them can do anything with it unless they work together or a court intervenes. Wow, that can cause problems!!

Is this the estate plan you have in mind? If not, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to create the plan YOU want.

Open House

The Law Office of Elizabeth Raxter is hosting an Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 27th, from 4p-7p. The Open House will be located in the Community Room of the Golden Age Home, Private Business Wing. Please stop by to say hello, sign the guest book, and enjoy light refreshments.

LOCAL ATTORNEY RECEIVES CERTIFICATION IN ELDER LAW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 23, 2011

Tucson, AZ – The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) – the only organization approved by the American Bar Association to offer certification in the area of elder law – has announced that ELIZABETH RAXTER of LOCKHART, TEXAS has successfully completed its examination and review leading to such certification. Ms. Raxter is 1 of 20 attorneys in the State of Texas and 1 of 428 attorneys in the United States to achieve the elder law certification.

Certification in elder law – one of the fastest growing fields in the legal profession – will provide a measure of assurance to the public that the attorney has an in-depth working knowledge of the legal issues that impact the elderly.

ELIZABETH RAXTER, a sole practitioner at the Law Office of Elizabeth Raxter in Lockhart, Texas, is now a Certified Elder Law Attorney. ELIZABETH RAXTER has practiced law for thirteen years and focuses her practice on wills, trusts and estate planning, probate, guardianship, special needs planning, and public benefits. Elizabeth Raxter is a graduate of Texas A&M University and William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. She has been a resident of Lockhart since 2005. The Law Office of Elizabeth Raxter is located at 1505 S. Main, Suite 1008, in the private business office wing of the Golden Age Home.

For more information, contact ELIZABETH RAXTER at (512) 398-6996.

One-Step Will Signing – One of the Many Changes to the Probate Code

Currently, to execute a “self-proved” Will in Texas, so that witnesses to the Will need not appear in court during the probate procedure, a Testator (person making a Will) must sign the document twice – once on the Will itself in front of two witnesses, and again on a Self-Proving Affidavit in front of witnesses and a notary public. The new law, which becomes effective September 1, 2011, allows an optional, stream-lined second method wherein the Testator, witnesses and notary public may sign one time on the Will document, thereby eliminating the Self-Proving Affidavit.